Publisher's note: Thanks to your letters and phone calls, the U.S. House of Representatives voted against giving away extra taxpayer money to the International Monetary Fund. However, the fight is not over. The U.S. Senate did vote several months ago in favor of the bailout, and now a conference committee of the two bodies will meet. If they decide to add more money for the secretive, failure-plagued IMF, then we will need to win yet another vote in Congress.
"Through their vote, Congress is saying IMF must earn this money by overhauling the current misguided way it does business," said Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth. "The IMF is unaccountable to the outside world and to will not reform unless funding is on the line."
Friends of the Earth has joined with the Banneker Center for Economic Justice and other groups to oppose any increase in IMF resources until reforms are secure. They are calling for more information to be released to the public, more accountability by the IMF Board of Directors, and an independent audit office to evaluate how the IMF operates.
"The environmental community is unified in saying no more money to the IMF until it stops using US tax dollars to drain natural resources for short term gain," said Carol Welch, International Policy Analyst at Friends of the Earth. "The need for more openness and accountability at the IMF became apparent to everyone this year as the IMF's secretive policies and programs wrecked havoc throughout Asia and Russia."
The environmental community issued a statement Thursday supporting efforts by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to link new IMF funding to major improvements in the lender's environmental safeguards. A growing number of Democrats are joining Republicans in criticizing the IMF and opposing new IMF money without reforms.
"The disaster of 1998 proved that it is time to take a hard look at how the IMF operates and what the real impacts of its programs are," said FOE's Blackwelder. "Let's hope the House of Representatives stays the course on this courageous vote and holds the line against IMF expansion when the House and Senate meet in conference."
Critics of the institution point out that according to the General Accounting Office (GAO), the IMF has almost $200 billion in resources, and insist that there is no good reason to expand funding.